Webinar Recap: Maintaining Business Development Efforts During COVID-19


By: Andy Powell, VP, Customer Success| April 9, 2020


In late-March, we hosted a webinar on ways to continue business development efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you were unable to attend the webinar, you can still watch the recording here. The goal of this session was to share our team’s expertise – as well as insights from our customers and other industry leaders – on planning sales strategies, tailoring marketing messages, and using potential downtime to strengthen referral relationships beyond the current situation.


To help position your team for success and keep the conversation going, we’re recapping a few highlights from the webinar and sharing resources that may benefit your agency. We hope these tips and insights allow you to continue to grow and nurture your network, even when you can’t get the face time that you’re typically accustomed to when making calls to prospects and partners.


Hospitals Need You, Now and Beyond COVID-19


Our first speaker was Trella’s CEO, Ian Juliano, who highlighted the evolution of acute and post-acute care over the past few years – and the importance of home health, hospice, and skilled nursing facilities to hospitals and the acute care market. Ian pointed out hospital CEOs and physicians are aware their organizations are suboptimal long-term care settings, even in the best of circumstances. These facilities have been reducing capacity and shifting to relationships with post-acute providers for years. This pandemic shines a light on the essential role your organization plays in providing quality care and reducing the spread of infection.


“As a country,” Ian said, “we’re seeing that we cannot continue to underinvest in post-acute care.” Whether you are on the front lines or in a role supporting the healthcare professionals on the front lines, your agencies are vital to our nation’s health. Hospitals recognize the need for partnerships with you, and we expect them to invest even more in those relationships beyond this pandemic.


Customer Insights and Utilizing Down Time


Next, Teresa Buglione, Director of Services at Trella Health, discussed a few helpful insights she and her team have gathered from Trella customers, plus tips to make the most of any down time you and your team may experience.


Business development leaders have found a few simple, creative, and effective ways to connect with prospects and existing partners. Some of the advice Teresa shared included:


  • Reach out to overburdened facilities to alleviate strain on their resources. If you can care for non-COVID-19 patients in home health or hospice settings, you can help acute facilities free up beds to focus on mitigating the spread of the virus.


  • Highlight the services and specializations that set you apart, and the measures you’re taking to protect your staff and patients. Patients and their family members may not know you’ve increased PPE use, or that you offer no-contact telehealth options. Providing information about these measures can help referring hospitals put patients at ease – making your agency a more attractive referral destination.


  • If you do have down time, take advantage to set your team up for success after the pandemic. This is the perfect time to do some additional training and dig into the data you have on current and prospective partners.


Marketing and Advertising During a Pandemic


Stan Massey, Chief Branding Officer at Transcend Strategy Group, addressed an incredibly common question: “Should we even be marketing right now?”


Referencing data from previous recessions, Stan pointed out, “Marketers that maintain a strong presence during a downturn gain market share, and typically significant market share, after that downturn is over.” With that in mind, shifting to the right messaging has never been more important.


Many home health and hospice agencies, right now, are at capacity and may be straining to care for current patients. Your partners and prospects are, too. So, how can you help them through this crisis? With the right messaging and communications, both internally and externally, you can:


  • Position your team as a community resource.
  • Manage expectations, within your team and with partners and patients.
  • Set your experts up as thought leaders in your service area.


Continue Communicating with Current Partners


Jess Chew, VP of Marketing at Trella, discussed the opportunity to nurture your relationships with existing referral partners, and to drive awareness through potentially new channels of communication, including:


  • Email
  • Text
  • Calls
  • Fax
  • Handwritten notes


Jess pointed out these channels can open new lines of communication while also making communications more personal. For example, if you’ve never emailed a partner before because you’ve always spoken with them in person, you may want to include your headshot in your email signature.


Jess also touched on the opportunity for marketing and sales teams to sharpen their materials and enhance their messaging. If you do find yourself with extra time, take a look at your brochures, presentations, and other materials that may need updating. Update your LinkedIn page, and – while now is not the time to hire a professional photographer –even take a new headshot for your profile or email signature. With the right lighting and a nice filter on your phone, you might be surprised at the result.


Maintain Momentum and Motivation with Your Team


Our final guest speaker was Whitney Jackson, Trella’s Director of Sales & Enablement. Whitney tackled the topic of team motivation and momentum. With so many people stuck in quarantine and feeling isolated, motivation can be difficult. Whitney had a few helpful tips we’ve been using with our team at Trella, including:


  • Daily video conference standups
  • Alternative sales metrics
  • Messaging focused on adding value and helping


Brief standup meetings – using Zoom, Google Hangouts, or other free or paid video software – can help your team feel more connected. Keep these calls short – no more than 15 minutes. And don’t over-plan them. Whitney pointed out our teams see each other’s pets and kids, and share the small wins they’ve had each day. It’s a great way to stay positive and connected.


Along the same lines, your traditional sales KPIs aren’t necessarily going to be good metrics for success right now. Instead of focusing on big-picture numbers, try focusing on smaller accomplishments. Our sales teams have been holding competitions, building out their territories, and engaging with their accounts.


And, as you connect and celebrate those small wins, encourage your teams to share what’s working for them and which messages are resonating with prospects and partners. As you do this, you will likely find that value-focused messaging is the most effective right now.


Encourage your team to ask how you can help referral partners and prospects. Lead messages with offers that will take the burden off them to focus on what’s most important. For example, at Trella, we’re currently offering customers free territory planning workshops. If you prioritize your prospects’ needs, you’ll likely find ways to appropriately and respectfully maintain communication with them.


Remote Business Development Resources


At the end of the session, our experts opened the floor for questions from the audience and discussed a few more subjects, including social media strategy, how to differentiate your agency, and email marketing tactics to drive better communication.


We also provided helpful resources, which can be found here:



Let’s Keep the Conversation Going


Do you have more questions about remote business development? Has your team found new ways to communicate with each other, existing partners, and prospects? We’re all in the fight against COVID-19 together, so let’s keep the conversation going. Join our Post-Acute Care Leadership Network on LinkedIn to share your thoughts and resources.


About the Author:

Andy Powell, VP, Customer Success

With nearly 20 years in the technology sector, Andy is a veteran of customer experience. Prior to Trella Health, he spent 11 years with VersionOne, growing the company from a startup into a leader in cloud-based software development planning solutions. Along the way he drove innovation across the entire customer life cycle in roles that included product manager, director of solution engineering, product evangelist, and VP of customer experience.


During his last four years as VP of customer experience at VersionOne, Andy established the customer success organization and led the effort to drive product adoption and retention.


Andy has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Notre Dame and proudly supports the Fighting Irish.

Ashton Harrison

With a diverse background of sales and healthcare marketing, Ashton manages Trella’s events, press releases, and media and association relations. After graduating from Florida State University with a major in communications, she began her career at Greenway Health, a EHR company, where she found her passion for the healthcare industry. At Trella Health, she’s able to do all the things she loves about marketing — engaging at events, interactions with partners, and creating marketing pieces that share insight on Trella’s journey.